(Photo: Bill Grimes)
There were the usual chanted liturgies and wafting smells of incense, but church services on Coptic Christmas Eve in Egypt were different this year.
Christians had to park their cars long distances away from their places of worship and pass through extra security cordons just to enter for the customary late-night Mass that begins festive celebrations.
Many wore black to remember the 21 people killed in an attack on their community in Alexandria just five nights before.
“Today the church looks sad and people are dressed all in dark colours,” said one man in central Cairo.
“The mood is solemn. Usually we wear bright garments to celebrate Christmas and laugh and smile.”
Christmas decorations had also been taken down outside churches and prayers were read for the dead.
“I would like to condole our sons in Alexandria for the martyrdom of a large number of innocent people, who had committed no sin,” said Pope Shenouda III, the head of the Coptic Church, in proceedings at St Mark’s Cathedral in the capital.
Read on the article on BBC News